When he recently appeared before a parliamentary committee for his vetting, Industrialisation Principal Secretary nominee Juma Mukhwana made the headlines with revelations that 30 percent of all academic certificates in Kenya are either fake, falsified, or interfered with.
Dr Mukhwana, the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) director-general, cited a survey as having confirmed his claims.
The KNQA boss told the committee that the authority had linked its system with the Immigration Department, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ahead of the August 9 General Election but the rollout was blocked by a court order, over claims that there was no public participation.
“Our hands were tied and we could not clean up the mess,” he said.
The nominee said the KNQA has a policy where all its employees must have their documents authenticated before one secures a job.
Cases of fake degrees especially among those holding or seeking public office are rampant but it appears that KNQA and the University Education (CUE) can do little to stem the vice.
Dr Mukhwana, who has led efforts for the credibility and portability of Kenyan qualifications since 2018, has been nominated together with Alfred K’Ombudho (Trade) and Abubakar Hassan (Investment) to work under Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria.
The ministry will be key cog in the wheel for Kenya Kwanza's efforts to deliver the promises to the made to Kenyans during the campaigns to raise manufacturing's share of GDP and the export volumes.
If approved, Dr Mukhwana will be tasked with the development of industrial policy and planning, Buy Kenya-Build Kenya policy, promotion of standardisation in industry quality controls, industrial training and capacity development, and combating of counterfeiting trade, among others.
He said he would seek to scale up diaspora inflows by targeting new areas of attracting foreign direct investment.
“I intend to increase this by 10 percent annually. By the end of five years, we should be receiving Sh600 billion,” he told MPs.
“We will ensure as a government that 50 percent of the diaspora remittances are channelled to investments. If this is done, we will have positioned diaspora remittances as a pillar of growth.”
Mr Hassan will handle the promotion and facilitation of domestic and foreign investment and investment policy and attraction among others.
As KNQA chief executive, Dr Mukhwana has been at the forefront of promoting African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in order to allow Africa to trade with itself. He worked with other experts to develop the African Continental Qualifications Framework (ACQF).
He has also worked with various stakeholders such as International Labour Organisation (ILO) to develop the recognition prior learning (RPL) policy and guidelines that Dr Ruto had promised to implement as part of his manifesto.
The policy and execution tools will go a long way in enhancing the recognition and certification of skilled Kenyans.
Dr Mukhwana has been the director-general at the KNQA since August 2018.
He has worked in various sectors, including agriculture and higher education and non-governmental organisations both locally and internationally.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Medicine and a Master's in Pharmacology and Toxicology both from the University of Nairobi and a PhD in Soil Science from the University of Wyoming in the USA.
He previously worked as the deputy CEO of the Commission for University Education and before that as a senior lecturer and chairman of the Department of Land and Water Management (and Acting Dean, School of Agriculture) at the University of Embu.
At KNQA, he has been instrumental in operationalising and implementing the Kenya National Qualifications Framework.
Dr Mukhwana was recently appointed by the Ministry of Education to help in development IGAD Regional Qualifications Framework.
He is currently working with the Government of Lesotho to develop national policies on recognition of prior learning and the national credit accumulation and transfer system.
The Industrialisation Principal Secretary nominee has received many national and international awards for his work in improving agriculture and higher education in Africa.
He serves on the board of the Regional Universities Forum in Agriculture (RUFORUM) — an association of 113 agricultural universities in Africa.
He is a past recipient of the Norman Borlaug Award for Leadership in Agriculture and Head of State Commendation ((HSC), awarded by then President Mwai Kibaki in 2005 for his pioneering role in improving smallholder farmer productivity, marketing and incomes in Africa.